Since we're working on two weeks since I ran the Columbia River Power Marathon in Umatilla, OR, it's about time I finally got the race report up.
This race came about, because a friend of mine, Heather, had put in to run the St. George Marathon with her husband. When they didn't get picked to run it I told her that if she couldn't get her husband to run another marathon with her I'd be happy to step in. I was still coming off my high from winning Ridgeline and since we had never really done anything together, let alone run, I wasn't really sure if she would take me up on it. She did though, so the task became to find a marathon in late fall (long enough to train for it) and on a Saturday, preferably within a reasonable driving distance from Eugene. We narrowed it down to two (actually there might have only been 2 that fit the bill), the Bend Marathon on October 1st and the Columbia River Power Marathon on October 22nd. Since Columbia River in Umatilla gave us 3 extra weeks of training and didn't start at over 3000 feet elevation and finish close to 4000 (like Bend did) we decided to go with it.
The day before the race, my mom came up (don't have a single picture of her, how terrible is that?!) and, after dumping off my kids that weren't in school with a friend (Thanks Lindsey!!) we headed to Umatilla where we stayed in the motel that housed packet pick up, a pasta feed and also boasted the start and finish of the race. We got there in time to tour what we could drive of the course and check out the gravelly path that we would be running on for 10 miles. The hills were a bit alarming... they were rolling and kind of big but we didn't let them scare us. The pasta feed, on the other hand was a little scary... okay, not really but it left a lot to be desired, so we decided to take our chances with the local fare. Umatilla is a tiny town so we headed into the "big city" of Hermiston where we were turned away from our first two choices to eat, no reservations, followed by a private party to which we weren't privy. Our 3rd choice smelled a bit too fishy, so we settled for choice #4, a pizza parlor that boasted pizza, pasta and something else. The only pasta they had on their menu was lasagna so we opted for bread sticks and pizza. So much for our huge night of carb loading.
The rest of the evening was uneventful. I painted my fingernails (which has become a racing prerequisite for me... this time I went with black), wrote out my fueling plan (another prerequisite), read for a bit and went to bed. We woke with plenty of time to check out the breakfast where I grabbed a banana to go with my Clif Bar and snagged some yogurt for my mom. I washed down breakfast with some water and ibuprofen and then chased it with 3 margarita clif shots as we headed out the door less than 10 minutes before the race started... sleeping at the start line was awesome!Barefoot Angie Bee & the ladies at Glam Runner, I was able to rock the awesome green & yellow sparkle tutu. Heather, being the good sport that she is, joined in on the fun and ordered a tutu of her own, "the punk rock girl". As soon as we made it two the crowd, the comments began (all positive) and we were dubbed the two tutu girls.
There was a lot of waiting at the start. They talked about the course, the security cautions for going over the dam and then ran through all the sponsors. Then a local band played a song and encouraged everyone to sing along. At this point I was kind of glad that I hadn't warmed up because I surely would've gotten cold.
|The racers look a little bored... blue bibs are marathoners, pink the halfers.|
Finally, after about 7 minutes, we were off:
|the guy in the half fanatics shirt ran Ridgeline with me... I referred to him as "maniac boy" in that write up... turns out he's a pretty hardcore runner doing crazy racing all over the place.|
I think mostly to separate the half from the full, the marathoners ran around a grass median in the road 1 1/2 times before heading off on the course. Although it was a bit monotonous, it gave my mom plenty of opportunities to play paparazzi. We're pretty easy to spot in our two tutus. :)
|finally, we're headed out to the course...|
|we found that running side by side while crossing the bridge on the narrow pedestrian path was a little troublesome... especially when trying to pass people. I'm sure we made quite the road block. :)|
Mile 9 was a nice flat stretch and took us through a park just pass the dam, up a little hill and on a stretch of gravel before saying hello to the 10 mile marker and goodbye to the half marathoners who went up the big, big hill towards their finish. (Don't feel too badly for them, we get to run up it at mile 24 of our race.) Also, at mile 10 I took the rest of my Margarita Clif shots. They are really tough for me to get down, but I know the extra sodium is a huge help as I am very prone to leg cramps. I don't think there is any way I could choke them down later in the race though.
Just past mile 11 is where we hopped on the Lewis and Clark Trail for 5 miles of trail running. Here is what the course outline had to say (I have to give it to you word for word... it is that awesome):
"Aside from crossing the McNary Dam, running in two states, and returning along the bridge, this trail is one of the the hallmarks of this marathon. Though challenging and rugged this gives you a chance to get away from the fast-paced world of everyday life and enjoy the beauty of the River, the sage, the basalt bluffs, and the divers flora and fauna unique to our region. We hope you enjoy this u-close-and-personal-view of our region in its rawest form."
I'm not afraid of trail running, in fact I prefer it to road running, however, there are is a huge difference between running on dirt/rock trails in the hills and running on sandy/gravelly rolling trails along the river. It was hard. Our pace dropped considerably, which wasn't something we had accounted for. Miles 12-16: 8:38, 8:42, 8:53, 8:49, 8:54. While running on the trail though, we hooked up with Miranda and Jay who would stick with us for most of the next 10 miles. At mile 15, I had some more caffeine, in the form of a Razz Clif shot. Towards the beginning of the trail, we joked about the "flora and fauna", towards the middle, we looked forward to seeing the leaders as they passed us on the way back (this is also where we learned there were only 2 women in front of us) and towards the end of the trail we looked forward to hitting paved ground again. Finally, at mile marker 16, we saw the end of the gravel (for the time being) as we headed for a two mile out and back through Hat Rock State Park. My mom was also a welcome sight.
|Me... still all smiles, Miranda, Jay... a first time marathoner & Heather|
Finally, at mile 23, we saw an end to the trail. I was so excited. I was happy enough to be off it that I was almost looking forward to the hill. Jay ran on ahead to get a drink from his wife and high fives from his 6(!) kids. Then we headed up the hill and up some more. The miles finally caught up to poor Jay and he slowed to a walk but still had very encouraging things to say as I went on ahead of him. Somewhere between mile 24 and 25, I ran into (no, not literally) my mom. I though she was going to be at the top of the hill but she had come down a bit to meet us. She was a very welcome sight. I also ran into my slowest pace of the race 10:13! Yikes, that hill was brutal!
|You can see Jay just behind me and Heather only a small distance off.|
My mom ran a bit up the hill with me while trying to keep me from talking to her, even though all I wanted to do was tell her how brutal the hill was. I think she wanted me to conserve my energy. I tried to figure out if I really was in 3rd place for the women and she thought I was. There were a few people not too far ahead of me and she thought maybe I could catch them. I didn't think I could, but told her I'd try. I didn't. Well, I did try, but didn't come close to catching anyone. :)
|Seriously who puts the finish line at the top of a hill? That is just mean!|
Overall, it was a tough, tough course. It was hilly and the gravel was difficult, but it is a race I would consider running again. There were long sections without any crowd support but the people that were out were great at cheering. Also, the aid stations were well placed and well stocked. Their were local cross country kids and other families handing out shot blocks and other forms of aid and all the stations were set up the same way with Gatorade followed by water. It seemed to be a very well organized race.
I loved wearing the tutu. It didn't get in my way at all and we got tons and tons of positive cheering attention for wearing them... I would definitely wear it again! I used KT tape on my hip and knee portion of my IT band as well as the IT Compression Wrap and didn't have a bit of knee pain. I was super duper happy about that!!
Here are a few more looks at the numbers (in case you hadn't read enough already);
and another look at the elevation profile in case you're having trouble picturing the hills. :)